(HealthDay News) – Assisted conception is not associated with an overall increase in cancer risk among children, according to a study published in the Nov. 7 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

To determine the incidence of cancer in children born after assisted conception, Carrie L. Williams, MB, BCh, from University College London, and colleagues linked data on all children born in Britain between 1992 and 2008 after assisted conception without donor involvement (106,013 children) with data from the United Kingdom National Registry of Childhood Tumours. Cancer rates for children up to age 15 years in the study cohort were compared with population-based rates in Britain over the same period.

During an average follow-up of 6.6 years, the researchers identified 108 cancers, compared with 109.7 expected cancers (standardized incidence ratio [SIR], 0.98; P=0.87). There was no increased risk of leukemia, neuroblastoma, retinoblastoma, central nervous system tumors, or renal or germ-cell tumors associated with assisted conception. There was an increased risk of hepatoblastoma (SIR, 3.64; P=0.02; absolute excess risk, 6.21 cases per one million person-years) and rhabdomyosarcoma (SIR, 2.62; P=0.02; absolute excess risk, 8.82 cases per one million person-years) associated with assisted conception, with hepatoblastoma and rhabdomyosarcoma developing in six and 10 children, respectively. For hepatoblastoma, the excess risk correlated with low birth weight.

“This is reassuring for couples considering assisted conception, children conceived in this way, and their families and clinicians,” the authors write.

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